Government has signalled its commitment to aggressively tackle the issue of Trafficking In Persons (TIP), and as such, the Minister in the Ministry of Social Protection, Simona Broomes, said that there will be a total restructuring of the TIP unit.
During an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Broomes explained that the unit currently has a staff complement of three, which she explained is not adequate to tackle the TIP scourge country wide. Therefore, she opined, a number of persons will be recruited and trained in this area.
“Three persons cannot man a TIP unit. It is a huge responsibility and we need to have a structured unit, with a well laid out plan, and persons with different roles and responsibilities, so that one person will not be pressured. It is not just about sitting in your office, getting a complaint and conducting a raid, and when I ask for a statement, you can’t provide me with one,” Minister Broomes pointed out.
In the area of training, Minister Broomes noted that such an initiative will commence by year – end. “If you receive a complaint and conduct a raid and there is a survivor, the unit is the first person to interact with the person and take a statement… that is why it is important to pull the unit and ensure those persons go through the right training. They will be trained in such a way that they will be able to take statements,” the Minister said. She further added that one must be able to determine when it is TIP and when there is the need for an investigation.
Additionally, Minister Broomes said that the Ministry will be heightening it awareness campaign on TIP throughout the country. She emphasised that many are of the view that this scourge only exists in the interior or hinterland areas, but this illegal activity also occurs on the coast, especially in Georgetown, the Minister said.
She explained that the first stage of this sensitisation process is to ensure that persons, from a young age, become aware of this issue. As such, the Minister said that she would like to see TIP be included in the school curricula, and in a language in which the students can understand. This, she noted, can be a form of prevention.
According to Minister Broomes, it has been more than 10 years since the TIP Act has been enacted, and unfortunately very little was done to make that legislation useful and effective. The deliverables in this regard depend very much on the implementation of the National Strategy Plan which flows from appointment of the appropriate task force, she further noted.
Section 36 of the Act mandates the Ministry of Social Protection to address this scourge, and according to the Minister, “it is our philosophy, that all forms of Trafficking In Persons become something of the past.” She said there will also be comprehensive training on the fundamentals of the legislation, which speak to TIP.